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The Plot Thickens

Hi, I’m Karen Meadows. Thank you for visiting The Plot Thickens.

I’m lucky enough to be the tenant of one of fifty large allotment gardens in the middle of the small and beautiful stone town of Stamford in England’s East Midlands. The gardens were first created by Brownlow Cecil, 4th Marquess of Exeter in the mid 1800s and their layout has remained virtually unchanged. Between the plots we have some 200 old apple trees, many of them rare varieties, and in 2017 Natural England awarded the gardens heritage orchard status.

Over the centuries at least 500 people have worked these plots. Follow our quest to discover who they were, what they grew, and what shenanigans they got up to. Be prepared for numerous diversions and musings along the way about gardening life here in our quiet (and occasionally not so quiet) little corner of Stamford.

If you haven’t discovered our website yet, do head over to Waterfurlong Orchard Gardens, where you will find a wealth of information about our gardens and gardeners, past and present.

And now for the small print...

The Plot Thickens is a non-commercial blog. All recommendations are based on personal preference and my own or our other gardeners’ own experience. Payments or free goods are not accepted in return for reviews of products and services. If an exception is made this will be clearly stated.

All words and images, unless otherwise credited, are my own. If you would like to copy text or images, I’d kindly ask that The Plot Thickens gets a positive mention and a link back to this blog.

Recent Posts

January in the Gardens: Painters and Perfumed Snowdrops.

If last January the gardens were unworkable because of snow, this January the problem's been mud - thick, clogging, mud. So, for those of us who haven't escaped to warmer climes like Cuba and India (no hint of envy in my tone!) it's generally been an indoors kind of month...

A highlight for me was nearly tripping over a clump of tall, early snowdrops in full bloom, buzzing with honey bees. Not just any old snowdrops, but the wonderfully-named 'Reverend Hailstone', which I purchased three years ago from Jackie Morris's stall at Easton Walled Gardens, didn't get round to planting, and thought I had stupidly managed to throw onto the compost heap. It's one of the biggest and most sweetly-scented snowdrops and has lovely glaucous leaves, so a treasure if you're interested in searching out more unusual varieties. It is named after the Reverend John Hailstone, vicar of Bottisham in Cambridgeshire, who bought neighbouring Anglesey Abbey in 1848, where the snowdrop was found growing.

If you follow the blog regularly you'll know we've had another exciting apple DNA result back, with one of our trees turning out to be the rare and ancient London or Five-Crowned Pippin, first recorded in 1580 and believed to be centuries older. On New Year's Day it was still holding on to nearly all its fruit, then suddenly the whole lot dropped to the ground, providing a welcome midwinter feast for the birds and squirrels.

More cheering news has been discussion with local landscape artist, Sarah Jennings, who has approached us about painting the gardens over the coming year for her Allotments Series. Here are 'Last Sprouts Standing' and 'Snow Compost' painted by Sarah last winter. Do check her super website, Sarah Jennings Artist, and keep watching this space!

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2019

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